If you want to be a college cornerback and be kept busy defending the pass most Saturday afternoons, there are few better places to do that than the pass-happy Big XII.
That’s where Ohio State freshman cornerback Ryan Watts was planning to be while he was committed to Oklahoma. An official visit to Ohio State, however, soon changed his mind.
As a talented 6-foot-3 cornerback, Watts had his choice of colleges, from Ohio State and Oklahoma, to Alabama, LSU, and everywhere in between.
He eventually landed with the Buckeyes and is now enrolled and experiencing life as a college student. It hasn’t been easy, but it’s a decision that has left him with zero regrets.
“Oh, no. Not at all,” Watt said. “Since I was a freshman, I wanted to come in mid-year. I had my mindset already, and I’m really not even homesick. Not yet. But I thank everybody on my support staff from back at home for helping me be able to leave early. I miss my friends, but I’ve made new friends here, and I’ve met new people. I try to go out and meet new people so I can just feel like myself and feel at home. So no regrets at all.”
Every freshman who enrolls in January does so with the intention of it allowing him to play sooner. Right now, however, it’s way too early for Watts to be locked in on anything other than the task at hand, which is school and workouts. Playing time will be answered at a later date.
“We’re just coming in and trying to get into the college life and just workouts,” he said. “Every day, we just keep working, and whatever happens, happens. I’m just gonna keep pulling all my effort in, and when the time comes, I’m gonna let the coaches make that decision and just keep working.”
The time is coming quickly, however, when the efforts on the football field will be taken into account. Spring football is now less than two weeks away and the competition is going to pick up. By signing with Ohio State, Watts knew there would be no easy roads, but he’s also seen the success that past Buckeye cornerbacks have had.
“Everywhere I would’ve went, there would’ve been a competition,” he said. “There’s a competition here. There’s a lot of good guys in that room. They talked to me about that, but I’m just gonna keep working and just let the decisions come down in the coaches’ hands.”
A Good Fit for Both Player and Program
Having lost two starting cornerbacks from last year in Damon Arnette and Jeff Okudah, there is certainly a need for some players to step up. While that is expected to be third-year players Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown — as well as Shaun Wade, somebody will need to replace Banks and Brown on the second team.
Based on what Watts can bring, he is certainly a player to watch even as a freshman.
“My game, I’d say I’m a long corner, of course. Physical at the line,” he said. “I like to put my hands on receivers and get in their space early, not make them comfortable through the route. Just get in their head. Just being able to be physical and hopefully make a play on the ball because I always like to turn my head to try and make a play on the ball.”
Hearing Watts describe himself may conjure up images and memories of other past great cornerbacks at Ohio State. That is not lost on Watts, who has been a Buckeye fan for a few years now and watched OSU corner after corner land high in the NFL Draft each year.
“It makes me feel real confident in my decision,” he said of the Buckeyes’ success in the draft. “I won’t get hurt if I don’t play the first year. I just wanna come out and work my hardest and help the team win any way I can. Whether that’s special teams or playing on the first team, second team, third team, scout team. I’ll do whatever I can. I’ll do anything to help my team.”